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How do I tell my OH I don't want children?

(117 Posts)
lollydollydrop Fri 10-May-13 14:51:31

Hi all,

I am looking for some advice from others and especially those who have experienced similar to me as I am curious as to the outcome.

Basically, me and OH are just turning 28, been together 4 years and living together 2.5, friends since we met at Uni aged 18. I got pregnant 4 months into our relationship, and ended up having an early abortion as everything was wrong at the time- new relationship, living 200 miles apart at the time at other ends of country, but more importantly I was struggling with bulimia after recovering from anorexia some 4 years previous. The termination was the worst time of my life- and the 1.5 years after that when I became quite depressed and obsessed with baby names..I became very broody perverse enough, and always thought that one day, when the timing was just right we would have a family.

However, fast forward to today, I have a 2 year old nephew and 5 year old niece who I adore, but I do not think I want my own anymore. I just keep thinking about the lifestyle change and what my life would be like either way, and I see more negatives of having children than I do positives? I see myself happier without- I think. In part its to do with wanting to have freedom to do my own thing and earn my own money, I have never been very independant and struggled for money with low paid jobs, but I am due to graduate with a masters in December and I want a new life for myself. One where I can afford to treat myself to a nice moisturizer or theatre ticket when I want/need it, instead of waiting for a birthday to come round or my OH to treat me. I want a career. And I dont want to be an 'older' mum. I will be starting my career at 29 probably, and kids seem incompatible with that.

Also, with my history of eating disorders I cannot cope if I am unable to exercise. Atm I go to the gym 3 times a week, sometimes 4, sometimes 2 depending on uni deadlines. It kills me if I have 3 gym free days in a row- 2 is all I am comfortable with. Please dont tell me I need counselling- had that for 5.5 years with a consultant psychologist and I have reduced exercise from its worst at 5 hours a day, before and after every meal, to 3 times a week. I am ok with that.

But I want be ok at not doing that with children around.

I worked out that, to get my pre preg figure back I could exercize whilst new born was sleeping and should be back in shape within 12 months, but for the 2nd DC I would need the gap to be quite short so that the first will still be taking afternoon naps whilst I exercize in the lounge. See, its very important to me. But what happens when they are at school? They have to be up at 7am to get to school and me work- I cant go gym before then- and after work if I go to the gym by the time I'm home I will have missed out their evening meal and they will be in bed! Plus my relationship will suffer.

I am focusing on the exercise and weight as its so important to me and I cant change. I have had to miss the gym for numerous days lately and its made me wonder how I would cope with kids. I dont know if I could

Has anyone had experience of a. telling your oh you dont actually want children (oh really really wants them) and how did he react? and b. how on earth do you fit formal exercise into a daily routine with children? When I think about the future, all I can see is me being utterly miserable and trapped (oh, and fat to boot). Exercise helps with my mood, and I use it instead of anti-deps. Also with my weight as I now tend to overeat, especially when emotional or stressed.

Realise this is completely selfish and prepared for abuse, also not gone into much detail about OH which I will later, for now I have to shoot but thanks for listening xx

cinnamonsugar Fri 10-May-13 14:57:11

Is he under the impression you do want children?

Spero Fri 10-May-13 14:59:28

Sit down with him and just tell him. If its a good relationship he will listen and you will talk about it. Thisis just too important to pussy foot about - he may really want children, be indifferent, or share your views.

It seems a shame that you have had counselling and feel you have no benefit and 'can't change' as the exercise thing does not sound to me very emotionally healthy for you and I suspect is getting in the way of more than just children.

It is perfectly possible to still be 'you' and have time for yourself with children, it helps if you are organised and have a supportive partner.

If you don't want children, that is perfectly fine, it is not compulsory. Just be clear and open with yourself and your partner about reasons why not.

SageMist Fri 10-May-13 15:00:43

It's ok to not want to have kids, no matter what the reason.

However, as you have realised its not fair to keep that decision/realisation from a partner. So how to tell him?

You could wait until he mentions kids in passing, and just blurt it out. Though its probably better to actually plan to tell him and work out what to say.

Have you ever talked about children? Do you have a feeling about whether he wants them or not?

Gillian1980 Fri 10-May-13 15:08:49

I think there are a few different issues intertwined here.

Firstly, I think that beginning a career at 29 is not a reason not to have children. I graduated my MA in 2012 at age 33 and so I'm only just beginning my career now. We plan to start trying for kids in 2-3 years time - ok, so we won't be especially young parents but neither will we be old fogies! If you did want to have kids then I see no reason not to do it based on your age.

Secondly, with the exercise, I think its a case of "where there's a will there's a way". If you want something enough then you'll find time to fit it in. Surely your OH could do the school run on certain days or manage the childcare so that you can fit it in. A partnership should be about compromise and so both of you would need to work together to find a balance.

It feels somewhat as though you aren't saying that you don't want kids, but rather that you don't think they will fit in to your life. Personally I think that they are pretty different issues.

I think it would be good to talk to your partner about the possibility of not having kids. See how he feels about it. If it is a deal breaker to him then it is only fair that he gets to make that decision in an informed way. And the same for you. Or maybe it will lead to a discussion about how you could adjust your lives to enable you to have kids and also to meet your other needs.

Life doesn't suddenly stop because you have kids, and neither should it. I know loads of people who manage to maintain their jobs, hobbies etc as well as give plenty of love and attention to their kids.

I would think about what you and your OH would like in an ideal world (not what you think is practical) and then look at how you can make that happen.

You need to talk about this, and I mean really talk. I didn't want kids and was open and honest with my dh when he proposed. I basically gave him a free pass to back out. He said he was ok with it, but he wasn't. It nearly cost us our marriage. Ironically I changed my mind at 39 and have just had a little girl. I couldn't be happier. Yes it's relentless, but there is nothing like the love you feel for your child. No one can explain it to you.

Incidentally I still exercised when pregnant and stayed fit and healthy. I walked out of the hospital a size 8 everywhere except obviously round my stomach. 8 weeks later that's flat too, and no I didn't starve myself, exercise madly, or anything else. You can have kids and keep your fitness.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Fri 10-May-13 15:30:20

If you don't want children, you simply don't have to. It is a choice.

There will be plenty of people prepared to tell you it's the best thing since sliced bread and some (admittedly fewer) others who tell you if they had their time over again they would choose not to have kids.

There are some people who cope well and find life barely changes, others for whom life completely changes. You can see that on any given day by reading some of the threads on MN.

At the end of the day, you have to discuss this with your OH. And if, as you say, he really really wants children, then you have to let him go, I'm afraid and let him find someone with that same desire. It's not an area for compromise.

HairyGrotter Fri 10-May-13 15:41:01

I think you should shift the focus of children to your relationship with food and exercise, if I'm honest.

I think you do just have to sit down and say it - obviously as he's known you so long he knows your issues?

You could of course also just have one child, talk to DH about the fact you want to go back to work full time after maternity leave and childcare will be 50/50 or that he can take the lion's share if he prefers (you are in a strong position to emphasise you expect him to take an equal if not leading role) and you can exercise at weekends and on Wednesday evening while your OH looks after the child, and accept missing bedtime that day, if you both want to find a compromise. I am not saying that is a good/ right or healthy choice, just that it could be an option if he really wants children and you really, really are sure he is the man for you and like children and would like one, but the exercise, career and money are the issues.

I do think if you were to have children you would have to get your head straight about not passing on your food and body image issues inadvertently - that for me would be the biggest reason you should be thinking hard! So many women who's issues have never got to such an extreme stage pass on such harmful attitudes on these topics - as you know real damage can be done!

Good luck!

ChocsAwayInMyGob Fri 10-May-13 16:00:13

I think that you still sound obsessed with exercise to the point where it's clouding other bigger issues in your life.

I'm not saying everyone must have children just because I liked it, but I will say that the love, fulfillment, joy, satisfaction and wonder of having children can never be matched by the freedom to stick with a zealous exercise regime.

PS
- Mothers do get to gyms.
-You can also have a gym at home.
- I had my kids at 36 and 39.

JessicaBeatriceFletcher Fri 10-May-13 16:00:24

MrTumbles - sorry but that is NOT a compromise. If one partner doesn't want children, and the other does, there is no compromise. Create a human life should be about two people who both WANT to do that.

OP, you say you think you don't want kids and it's probably highly likely you don't. This is what you say to your DH. You must be totally honest and say while you may change your mind, he must not rely on that and if you don't change your mind, he cannot throw this back in your face at a later date. He must then decide what is more important - his love for you and if that is enough, or his desire to have children.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 10-May-13 16:11:37

Agreeing with others, why you don't want children is entirely personal to you as an individual and not for anyone else to judge. However, if you know your partner wants them, it is vital that you tell him clearly and soon. This is not something that you want any ambiguity hanging over. You don't want him to spend years trying to persuade you down a path you're not happy with. That would be cruel.

Is your OH even thinking about having children now? To me it sounds like you are maybe obsessing about this issue when it isn't a problem yet. At 28 it's not like he has to rush off and find someone to have his babies!

Just chill out and look after your immediate concerns. There's no need to feel you're pulling the wool over his eyes when it doesn't seem to be something that's even being discussed. You never know - maybe he changed his mind too. Let the topic come up when it happens organically, and then be honest. But of course, if you don't want to have a child don't have one. I can't near it when people say women should have a baby 'just in case' they regret it. It must be just as bad to have a child and then regret it daily for 8 years!

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 10-May-13 16:23:24

"There's no need to feel you're pulling the wool over his eyes when it doesn't seem to be something that's even being discussed. "

It may not have been discussed but what if it's assumed? It's pretty normal for couples who have been together 10 years to assume there will be children at some point in the future. Deliberate childlessness is a far less common outcome, let's be honest. Late twenties they're not kids out of school any more. OP has to at least check what he's thinking.

quietlysuggests Fri 10-May-13 16:27:07

You do not have control over your eating disorder.
Is this ED really going to shape your whole life?
Isn't it worth tackling it more, again, further.
Well done on keeping it in check as you do currently, but you can aim for more.
Having a child may stress the ED, as would illness, infertility, money worries, job stresses etc
I hope your DH is aware of your ED, could you start to talk to him about it?
EDs are fatal illnesses for many, I know that, so if yours stops you from having a family, but leaves you alive, then maybe thats as much as you want to aim for,
But you can aim for more, to really kick it.
Good luck.

Mumsyblouse Fri 10-May-13 16:40:06

There are a few issues here and I think some very sensible comments have been made. Some of your reasoning sounds very obsessive about the exercise thing and what strikes me is that you are very vulnerable because of this, not just because of the child thing, but if you had an accident, or a job where it was hard to fit in or all these things. I do know someone who was anorexic and exercised obsessively her whole life, but unfortunately it was at the expense of close personal relationship, and of children- I think she was happy with her choices in so far as she could not see outside of them, but no, I don't think she attained any contentment whatsoever staying literally and metaphorically on the treadmill her whole life never daring to step off.

Does your partner know anything about your thoughts on children, or about how much your body issues are driving this? Of course you do not have to have children but you do need to talk with him, and sooner rather than later. You could have one child only, and many people do overcome a deep phobia to have them (e.g. people overcome fear of childbirth), but of course this is a deeply personal decision and you may not want to have children for other reasons anyway. But all this is a conversation for you and your husband, not perhaps all at once, and over time, and it may also change as you get into your thirties anyway as (some) people's feelings on having children do change over time.

Mumsyblouse Fri 10-May-13 16:41:36

And- I do have friends who have chosen to be childfree and really do enjoy their lives an enormous amount- but it's nice for it to be a choice and not something you are prevented from doing due to your other fears.

OneMoreGo Fri 10-May-13 17:27:18

I think all of your reasons for not wanting children are totally valid, and if I had my time again I wouldn't have one. They are hard, hard work, you have to be very selfless and not really want a life for the first 5 years of each child's life, and that is very hard work.

I think separately from that, as others have said, the ED is still a big part of your life and I wouldn't contemplate having children while still in the grip of an ED. Lots of reasons, but mainly I wouldn't want them to pick up on stuff and develop one themself as a result of watching/learning from me.

Whether you decide to tackle the part the ED plays in your life currently if you don't have kids, well that's your personal choice and I won't attempt to nag you. If you are certain you don't want kids (and you sound bloody sensible to me) then for goodness sake tell your partner clearly and firmly and don't back down. I wanted and tried for kids and I still regret it.

ChocsAwayInMyGob Fri 10-May-13 20:08:46

OneMoreGo- you regret having your kids?

buildingmycorestrength Fri 10-May-13 20:28:04

Chocs I'm sure she's not alone.

well it's clear to me that you're not ready NOW. i wasn't at 28 either. you've got a new career ahead, a change of your view of your life so far and a child would certainly put paid to that.

so i would tell him that. i do think you need to be totally honest about these things, sooner rather than later. i think most people assume that women want kids. just not true.

one last thing i'd say that having a child is so, so hard. but it is a long term investment the rewards of which are so great. not something you go into lightly, but also a decision that you're right to question every now and again.

I was not really ready at 28. My oldest was unplanned, and born when I had just turned 30.

I also think it sounds like your eating disorder is not under control. Your main focus seems to be on your body shape.

As for exercise? If you are fit, and it sounds like you are, you are probably going to be able to exercise for most of your pregnancy, and getting your pre baby body back will most likely happen within a few months, rather than a year.

My gym instructor was teaching ab attack classes and step until she was 8 months pregnant!

Gilberte Fri 10-May-13 20:47:00

You can have children and exercise. You can wait until they are in bed and go to the gym/go for a run then or at weekends when you can share more of the childcare with your OH.

Having children is hard work- don't go into it lightly but equally don't rule it out if it's just your need for exercise that is getting in the way. There are ways round these things.

Don't necessarily think you'll put on loads of weight that will take ages to come off- it's not the same for everyone. In fact some people lose too much weight after pregnancy due to breastfeeding and not looking after themselves/ not having time to eat properly. It is important you recognise that your body will change and with your history you will need to make sure you do look after yourself properly if you do go ahead with a pregnancy. However, a lot of women love their pregnant bodies and do become more accepting of themselves after pregnancy.

But do not feel you have to have children anyway. You do have to put them first especially for the first few years and, although it is rewarding, you do have to make sacrifices and only you know if you can do that. Also being a parent is very stressful and ,if you are already an anxious person, you may find the mental side overwhelming at times.

Having children is not everything- mind you neither is having a career.
You need to do what is right by you in the end- but you do need to be honest with your OH as soon as possible and accept that this might result in the end of the relationship.

I wish you well.

scottishmummy Fri 10-May-13 20:52:24

you're not wrong in anyway to not want kids,you need to be clear to dh
you need to be transparent that its not something you desire at moment
be prepared he may leave you to be in relationship with woman who will have kids

sarahjaye Fri 10-May-13 21:02:51

My career was just getting into the swing at 28, I was having a ball socially and was adamant I was never having kids. I had my son at 34, and it really shocked everyone, they thought I never would. My career is still great.

You might feel like this now, you still might feel like this in 6, 8, 10 years time, but you are allowed to change your mind.

Your life, your body, your choice.

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